Common Childhood Illnesses

  • Strep throat is painful. It is a bacterial infection that inflames the throat and causes it to turn very red. It is not your normal run of the mill sore throat. Strep throat is common in children and is very contagious. Gone untreated, strep can be extremely dangerous, leading to rheumatic fever and heart damage. Symptoms include painful swallowing, fever, various body aches and pain with nausea and vomiting. Call your child’s pediatrician when symptoms occur. Your child’s doctor will conduct a test to determine if your child is suffering from a regular sore throat or from strep. They will order a throat culture to find out if bacteria are present. A rapid antigen test might also be administered. This also involves a throat swab.

    Hand foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that kids in close proximity can pick up from one another. A rash and sores appear in the mouth, on the hands, feet and even on the buttocks. There’s nothing you can do to treat the disease though symptoms can be treated if your child is uncomfortable. For instance, if the condition is accompanied by a fever, ask your doctor about an over the counter medication that will lower his fever. Dress the child in lightweight clothing and keep them cool.

    Impetigo is a skin infection that appears with reddish sores that will primarily surround the nose and mouth. Hands and feet are also targets of impetigo that is characterized by crusty sores, when the previous reddish sores crust over and burst. Impetigo is treated with antibiotics and is  highly contagious; Keep kids with impetigo home from school to prevent spreading. Children are no longer contagious following twenty-four-hour antibiotic treatments.

    Pink eye (conjunctivitis) occurs when the conjunctiva (tissue covering the white part of the eye and lines the inner eyelid) becomes inflamed. The eye turns pink to bright red. It is highly contagious but clears up with medical intervention with no long-term negative effects. Your child’s eyes may itch and show signs of thick mucus that can be wiped gently away with a warm washcloth. Take your child to the doctor to determine if her conjunctivitis is bacterial or viral. Bacterial pink eye will be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms clear up fairly quickly, within a few days.

    Mononucleosis isn’t as contagious as other infections. It is contracted through saliva, which is why it is commonly known as the kissing disease. While saliva is the culprit that carries the disease, it’s not always transmitted through kissing. Kids can pick up mononucleosis, also known as mono, by sharing food or when they’re in close proximity to a contagious person’s sneeze or a cough. Fatigue, fever, skin rash, inflamed tonsils, and sore throat are all symptoms. It generally takes 4-6 weeks to get rid of the disease for adolescents. For younger children, it can be much shorter.

    Chickenpox is a childhood disease that’s nearly been eradicated with the introduction of the chickenpox vaccination in 1995. Prior to that time, four million kids in the United States suffered every year from the disease. Cases have fallen exponentially since the vaccine; however, unvaccinated kids are still susceptible to the viral infection that causes itchy, fluid-filled blisters to rise on the skin. It is highly contagious and uncomfortable.

    Pertussis (a whooping cough) is a serious illness. Children and teens that are exposed to the disease will contract pertussis within 5-10 days following exposure. When your child’s symptoms first appear, you might think they’re catching a cold that is accompanied with a light cough, fever and a runny nose. However, severe symptoms will appear and will include terrible bouts of rapid coughing that makes it difficult to catch a breath. Vomiting after coughing and exhaustion following the coughing fits can be expected. Very little children may not cough at all. Parents should be careful to pay close attention to their child’s breathing since pertussis can cause it to stop abruptly. Pertussis can be treated with antibiotics, but early treatment is important. Children, who receive one of the two-pertussis vaccines available, are less likely to contract pertussis. The DTaP vaccine is a protection for young children against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The Tdap vaccine is a protection for teens and adults and includes protection against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

    All of the diseases above can be prevented. Some are prevented by vaccine, but simple actions can also prevent the disease from spreading. Washing hands frequently and keeping your child home from school when they are sick will cut down on infections that spread at school.